I think that the word Hero is losing it’s value a little in todays society. I worry that our children don’t understand the true meaning of the word. Along with the words Inspirational and Role Model I find it hard to understand sometimes the kind of people these words are attached to.
Growing up I found my own role models. They tended to be real people in my life. A teacher, Mr Ellard or Mrs Tate. They taught me that reading was a pleasure, that discipline mattered and that knowing how not to take myself so seriously was ok. I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I wanted to inspire people the way that they inspired me. Patience, understanding, intelligence and wit were all there. Obviously at the age of 9 I didn’t understand what I loved about these people, nor did I understand what a role model was. They simply inspired me to want to be the best that I could be.
When studying history I developed a love for a few strong women in history. These women would also inspire me but, more than that, I truly believed them to be heroes. They beleived in something with a passion and stood up for their rights , followed that passion and achieved their dreams. Two women who I still think of from my studies when I think of the word heroes are:
- Amelia Earhart
had a true sense of adventure. She followed her passion and became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic and was instrumental in the formation of the Ninety Nines, an organisation for female pilots. As an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment she was also a member of the the National Womens Party. I often find myself looking to her quotes for a little inspiration my most favourites being “I want to do it because I want to do it” and “the most effective way to do it is to do it” Simplicity, you see, is the key.
was a major force behind legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane. She was a quaker and was the first woman to present evidence to parliament in 1818. She introduced schooling for children imprisoned with their mothers (many of whom never faced a trial). This is what being a hero is about, changing peoples lives.
But you know, heroes dont have to be dead. They can be living and breathing. They dont have to be famous, adventurers, social reformers, political activists they can be every day people dealing with every day issues. One of those people for me is
My friend Christine
Sometimes in life your path crosses with somebody with whom you have an instant connection. My friend Christine was a bit of an enigma. When I first heard of her I had just moved to a new office and she was seriously ill in hospital. No, that is an understatement, she almost died. I had heard how strong a personality she had but I don’t think anybody realised just how strong a spirit she had until she pulled herself through from the brink. I later was lucky enough to work quite closely with her. Her drive, ambition and resolve to get the job done were often under played. She cared passionately about the people that she was helping and had strong political views. Every time I saw her in action I was inspired to try that little bit harder. She got herself an MA in Social Policy whilst working full time and looking after daughters, grandchildren and Mother in Law. She always had a smile on her face, I particularly loved her taste in shoes.
I left my job and she gave me a beautiful box as a parting gift. I keep my treasures in there and everytime I opened it in the years that followed, I thought of her. Although we resolved to keep in touch, as people always do, we lost touch. We didnt connect with each other for four years for various reasons. Thanks to the wonder of twitter she spotted me chatting with somebody (we had lost each others contact details) and butted in on our conversation. I was so pleased to hear from her. To hear that she is undergoing treatment for cancer was a shock but I was not surprised to hear that she was still going into work and, as always, battling for all her worth. I was able to meet up with her a few weeks later and it was great to see her looking well and keeping active. This is a hero, a woman who fights for what she believes in but fights to survive too. She wont allow petty people to get in her way, influence her beliefs or stop her from surviving. Meanwhile she continues to work passionately to help people “less privelaged” than herself. Despite still undergoing treatment and having a really hard time of it she wanted to know all about me, what I have been up to and how things were with me. I didn’t ask her about the cancer in detail, I had no need to. She is dealing with it, she doesnt look for, or need sympathy. It is an illness to be fought and she is fighting it. Of course I care about her but I hope that no words were needed about the cancer for her to realise that I care. It was only after I left that I realised that I didn’t actually acknowledge her words about being bald and throwing up into a bucket. In true Scouse sense of humour it had been a throw away comment. I know that it must have been hard for her to be dealing with that but I know that it would be hard for her to linger on it in conversation with me and so we moved swiftly on.
I met up with another friend later that day and was updating her on progress. The words, inspirational, brave and hero were all used. But the words that were used the most were “I love that woman” I couldn’t agree more.
Since that first reunion we have met several times. She is bringing me along on her coat tails. Encouraging me to try new things. Inspiring me to fill up my Fabulous 50 list and sharing some of those adventures with me.
I think she will be reading this and I wanted to say Christine. I love you. You inspire me to be as strong as I can be. Not as strong as you because you are you and I am me. I just want to be the best that I can be as you truly demonstrate all of the time.
Who is your hero? Who inspires you to be the best that you can be.